Sun, February 22, 2009
China > Mainland

Death toll in N China coal mine blast jumps to 74

2009-02-22 07:37:36 GMT2009-02-22 15:37:36 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Luo Lin (1st L, rear), head of the State Administration of Work Safety, Zhao Tiechui (R, rear), head of the State Bureau of Coal Industry, and Zhang Baoshun (C, rear), the Provincial Communist Party Committee chief, talk with a miner injured during the accident at a hospital Gujiao City, north China's Shanxi Province, Feb. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Jin Liangkuai)

Medical workers prepare to treat survivors in north China's Shanxi Province, Feb. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Yan Yan)

Rescue workers carry a body of a victim at a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, Feb. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Yan Yan)

Rescue workers carry a body of a victim at a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, Feb. 22, 2009.(Xinhua/Yan Yan)

Ambulances wait at a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, Feb. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Yan Yan)

GUJIAO, Shanxi, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in north China's coal mine blast rose to 74 as of 6 p.m. Sunday after one more body was retrieved from the shaft, the rescue headquarters said.

The headquarters did not specify how many bodies were found in the mine shaft, only saying the fatalities included bodies found by rescuers in the mine and workers who died in hospital care.

Rescuers said that among 114 hospitalized miners, six are in critical condition.

The accident occurred at 2:17 a.m. Sunday at the Tunlan Coal Mine of Shanxi Coking Coal Group in Gujiao City, about 50 km away from Taiyuan, the provincial capital, when 436 miners were working underground.

Rescuers said among 113 hospitalized miners, 21 miners are still in critical condition.

The rescue headquarters said the fatalities included those found dead by rescuers under the mine and the injured who failed emergency medical treatment in hospitals.

By 1:00 p.m., 65 miners were confirmed to remain trapped under the mine. But rescuers did not update the figure.

The Tunlan Coal Mine with an annual production capacity of 5 million tonnes boasts one of the best mining facilities in China. The mining company, Shanxi Coking Coal Group, is China's largest coking coal producer.

The mine has had no major production safety record for the past five years.

Lying on the bed in hospital, Xue Huancheng, 27, said he had been working in the coal mine for four years.

"We didn't feel anything unusual before the accident this morning," recalled the man, a native of Shanxi.

He told Xinhua that when the accident occurred, they just felt chocked. Then at about 3:30 a.m., someone outside the shaft told them "the ventilation system broke down" and ordered the miners to escape.

"At that time power supply underground was cut off and we had to walk," he said.

Fortunately the man had received regular trainings for self-rescue, which the mine conducted twice a year. After walking for about 40 or 50 minutes, he felt lack of oxygen and switched on the self-rescue facility, but fainted when he was about to reach the exit.

Xue woke up at 5:30 a.m., only to find himself in the hospital.

"I still felt dizzy and doctors brought me oxygen bottles. They measured my body temperature, blood pressure and recorded electrocardiogram for me," he said, adding that he felt better by noon.

Most of the miners suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, said doctors in the Xishan Hospital of Coal and Electricity in Gujiao, one of the nearest hospitals to the mine.

All of the 68 hyperbaric oxygenic chambers in hospitals in Taiyuan are now open for admitting the injured miners.

Zhang Baoshun, the provincial Communist Party committee chief, who is leading the rescue work at the accident site, called for effective rescue efforts to prevent secondary disasters.

So far, 80 rescuers from seven professional rescue teams were searching for the trapped under the mine.

A rescuer told Xinhua reporter Sunday morning that some relatives of the trapped miners said they had got cell phone calls from their dear ones under the mine, which meant they were alive.

More than 40 ambulances have been called to the accident site to provide the first aide.

Luo Lin, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, and Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Bureau of Coal Industry, are rushing to the site.

Huang Yi, spokesman for the administration, urged all mining companies to carry out safety overhaul.

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